Studio (Orion) Cinema, Hassocks.

Studio (Orion) Cinema

64 Keymer Road,

 Hassocks, BN6 8QA



Owners:  Fletcher-Barnett Syndicate Ltd.

Architect: E.B Parkinson.

Building Contactor:  T.J. Braybon and Son Ltd from Brighton.

First General Manager: Kenneth Johnson.

Seating Capacity: 811.

Date opened:  Monday 28th November 1938.

Opened By:  Colonel Sir William R. Campion KCMG DSO.

First film shown: “The Prisoner of Zenda”.

Date Closed: Mid 1960s.



The Studio Cinema was built on the site of a private house, which was once owned by a branch of Earl Haig’s family. The cinema was built in fifteen weeks by the builders T.J. Braybon and Son Ltd from Brighton. The architect was E.B Parkinson of Huntingdon. Sir William Campion was introduced by Mr W. Fletcher, a director of the Fletcher-Barnett Syndicate Ltd, the owners. A press report said: Sir William said the cinema was going to be a great asset to the neighbourhood. Previously, people in certain villages and towns had found it difficult to get to a place where there was a cinema, but Hassocks was very accessible.

The cinema on Keymer Road Hassocks was officially opened on Monday 28th November 1938 by Colonel Sir William R. Campion KCMG DSO.

Up in the projection room was the latest Western Electric Mirrorphonic sound system. Seating was for around 800 and the opening programme was, “The Prisoner of Zenda” starring Ronald Colman and Douglas Fairbanks Jnr, “The Clock Cleavers” (Silly Symphony cartoon), Gaumont British News, “Edgar and Goliath” and “The March of Time”. It was to be “The Drum” as the first feature, but for some reason it was changed. The first manager was Kenneth Johnson. Later, it was managed by Arthur Ridley.

The impressive neon supplied by Bush Signs Ltd of Brighton.

The press stated, there was an interesting gathering in connection with the building of the cinema held at the Downs Hotel, Hassocks on the Sunday evening, when around 120 guests were entertained to dinner by the Fletcher-Barnett Syndicate Ltd. A toast to the house and Mr E.B Parkinson was proposed by Mr A.P. Belton of Braybon and Son. He thought that Mr Charles Barnett (co owner) had found an excellent site at Hassocks, and his architect had produced the very best cinema with which he had anything to do with. It was stated that the members of the Haywards Heath licensing authority had shown more courtesy and had been more helpful in their criticism than any other licensing authority he had met. Mr Belton presented a cheque to Mr Percy Morley, the foreman in appreciation of his excellent work.

There was a private showing of the programme after the guests had inspected the building. By the early fifties the cinema was run by Orion cinemas. In 1953 two employees of Belchers Radio service, Lewis, had narrow escapes from injury when they were fixing an aerial for projection television on the roof.

**It is not clear when it opened and closed as the Orion, although it is documented locally as closing during  1964. Sadly, a number of cinemas failed to record such details.

The building was eventually demolished.

If anyone knows when it became the Orion and last the film shown, please get in touch.

David A Ellis©


**The West Sussex Gazette for Thursday 20th March 1947 records the annual charity levy from Sunday profits of the Studio Cinema, Hassocks, being reduced from £160 to £70.  The Sussex Express and County Herald for Friday 2nd January 1948 records the contribution to charity for the Orion Cinema, Hassocks, being fixed at £65 for the year.  It therefore seems the cinema opened as the Orion some time in 1947. [The British Newspaper Archive lists the ‘Sussex Express and County Herald’ as the ’Sussex Agricultural Express’, an earlier title.]

With thanks to Jon Taylor for the above additional information